Ranked second on the list of the smallest countries in the world, Monaco is located on the Mediterranean coast, near the border of Italy and surrounded by France. The state, with its own flag and prince, comprises one municipality, which was divided into three municipalities in 1911 but came together in 1954 as quartiers (wards). The country boasts excellent beaches, casinos and low taxes.
Monaco represents a small paradise, especially known for its casinos and gambling. Some of the casinos, such as the Casino de Paris, are characterised by ornate interiors and high dress fashion of their clients, while other casinos allow more casual apparel. Monte Carlo also features the local Opera and impressive historic buildings, richly decorated with wall paintings and sculptures.
Monaco-Ville, the capital of Monaco, features an Old Town and several historical sites, such as the old fortification walls of the Palais Princier, the seat of the prince, where the changing of the guards is a popular attraction. Other attractive venues include Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden); St Martin Avenue, which is lined with pleasant gardens and offers a great view of the coast and Monaco Cathedral; and the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium. Most attractions in the city are concentrated in one area, allowing on easy access on foot, but elevators and escalators also help breach steep slopes.
The second oldest district in Monaco, La Condamine, maintains the main port of the country, where in one harbour the yacht of the prince of Monaco can be seen, as well as other luxury vessels. This historic district evolved into a modern business centre. The Condamine Market, a traditional 19th-century bazaar, is located here. The fourth district of Fontvieille and its football stadium is the newest addition to the country, both built of land reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea. The district features modern architecture and was the setting for the Monaco football club as finalists in the 2004 UEFA Champions League.
Beaches along the Mediterranean coastline lure tourists with pristine sand, beautiful landscapes, comfortable hotels and mild climate. Monaco has retained its fame as a trendy resort destination since the 19th Century, when well-to-do Europeans and Americans frequented the country. Today, Monaco is also a well-known tax haven and home to one of the world’s most prestigious Formula One races, the Monaco Grand Prix, which has been run since 1929.
Monaco is easily accessible from the airport located in Nice, 14 kilometres east of Monaco Principality, with regular connections to major cities. Buses and taxis also travel from Nice to Monaco. A well-developed network of rail-roads also provides easy access to other towns of France and Italy.